Review: QUOZ

On 10th November, all the galleries situated in Al Quoz (an industrial part of Dubai) took part in QUOZ, an all day event that invited art enthusiasts to explore the 30 creative spaces within the area.  It's the first of hopefully an annual/bi-annual event. 

Al Quoz isn't the most attractive part of Dubai and apart from the usual art crowd that turn up at gallery openings and events, the place isn't busy with people checking out the latest exhibitions. So it was good to see there was a bit of buzz in the area on the day and hope it attracts more people on a regular basis. Since it was an all day event, there was a constant flow of people throughout the day, but at no point did it feel packed 

Overall, I enjoyed my day which consisted of checking out the exhibitions in the galleries. But I do hope the next QUOZ will have a varied programme including more performances and talks.  

Here are my impressions and photos I took on the day.

Learning by Heart by Arwa Abouon at The Thirdline

Extimacy by Hayv Kahraman at The Third Line

I spent my time in and around Alserkal Avenue  because it was the place with the most galleries that were close to each other. Although there were buses to transport you around Al Quoz, I wasn't in the mood to hop on and off the bus.

It was nice to gallery hop within Al Serkal Avenue but I really wish cars weren't allowed to drive inside. It would be much better and safer to make the whole area inside Alserkal Avenue a pedestrian area, especially on days like QUOZ.

Collision by Moataz at Lawrie Shabibi

Most of the galleries had guided tours, some had a fixed schedule and some were on demand depending if you asked for it or not. Some gallerists were good at giving a guided tour, whilst others weren't really into it (my friend and I were brushed off half way through one of the guided tours because a VIP walked into the gallery).

I also felt most of the galleries lacked proper written content about their shows (apart from always having a price list on hand). Almost all the galleries in Alserkal Avenue don't even have names/titles displayed on the walls near the artwork, which I find odd. If museums and art institutions label the art work on display, I'm not sure why these galleries can't do it. 

Any Resemblance to Actual Persons, Living or Dead, is Purely Coincidental. by Zoulikha Bouabdellah at Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde

Any Resemblance to Actual Persons, Living or Dead, is Purely Coincidental. by Zoulikha Bouabdellah at Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde

Any Resemblance to Actual Persons, Living or Dead, is Purely Coincidental. by Zoulikha Bouabdellah at Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde

My favourite piece was from The House of Cards exhibition at Grey Noise, a photography installation called "The Future in Their Hands (the visible hands)" by Danilo Correale (pictured below). Correale assigned one of India's most famous palm readers to interpret the personalities of six men, without revealing the origin of the images. The images of the hands of six chairmen on trail during the recent worldwide financial crisis were taken from the internet. Next to each image was the palm reader's interpretation of the individual pictured. I thought it was both a clever and very funny piece. 

...speculating on the impossibility to determine the true nature and shifty personality of some influential representatives of the political/financial world, tries to decipher the “ invisible hand of the market”. In collaboration with a famous Indian fortune-teller the palms of six influential men were read and for each one of them a personality profile was traced, creating an ideal ambiguity between the human aspect and public image of the leaders charge of regulating and handling the present and future of our society.  (via

House of Cards at Grey Noise - The Future in Their Hands (The visible hands) by Danilo Correale

House of Cards at Grey Noise - Walking Tables by Judith Hopf in collaboration with Florian Zeyfang

I really liked the pop-up bookshop in Shelter that was put together by Art Dubai and Jashanmal Bookstores, It had a good selection of art publications including books, monographs and magazines. One funny moment was when a woman asked me if the books were for sale or if she could just pick anything she wants. I wish I said I she could pick whatever she wants, just to see what would happen, but the sensible part of me decided to tell her she has to pay for the books.

Shelter was also the place where they served food, coffee and tea from Lime Tree Cafe, which was all very good - but it would have been great if they also served a variety of fresh juices and oh how I wish there was an ice-cream van. 

Shelter - pop-up bookshop

I was quite mesmerised by "One minute dreamstate (1.40 AM)" by James Clar (pictured below) from Iris was a Pupil exhibition at Carbon 12. Made of fluorescent lights and filters, and 220 cm in diameter, it's the first piece that grabs your attention when you walk into the gallery.

A brainwave sensor was used to record the artist's brain activity during one night of sleep. At 1:40am REM occured, his brainwave activity increased, and he entered dreamstate.

One minute of brainwave data from the transition into dream sleep is selected and mapped onto light filters. These lights are then arranged into a large circle which represents the face of a clock, with the red lines representing the time. (via

Iris was a Pupil by James Clar at Carbon 12 - One minute dreamstate (1.40 AM)

The talk I was looking forward to the most turned out to be the most disappointing. Salsali Private Museum hosted a book launch and talk for IRAN: RPM Vol. I by Ali Bahktiari. The book is about vinyl covers that were designed for Iranian movie soundtracks between 1965-1974 and the gallery had a great display of the artwork, along wth movie posters and old Iranian films projected on several walls.

The 'talk', however, just ended up being more of a speech thanking everyone involved in publishing the book and there were lots of clapping. Like I said, it was the most disappointing moment of the evening, which was such a shame because it could have been so much more. 

Salsali Private Museum - vinyl artworks IRAN: RPM Vol. I

Salsali Private Museum - vinyl artworks IRAN: RPM Vol. I with Ali Bahktiari

Salsali Private Museum - Iranian film projected on the wall

Beyond Rhythm by Francesca Galliani at Showcase Gallery

My evening ended at The Fridge where I watched an experimental live electro musical performance by Tacit. We don't often get performaces like this in Dubai, so will be interesting to see if The Fridge will host more performances like this. I hope they do. We need more experimental and less conventional. 

Tacit at The Fridge

Before ending my review, I'd like to mention the benches that were scattered around Al Quoz. Turns out the organisers read my plea in my previous post about QUOZ where I said "I just hope there will public seating areas to rest between all the gallery hopping". I was told it made them realise it was a good idea and they went ahead and got some benches. I'm so glad they did this as it was very much needed throughout the day by all the gallery hoppers. 

So there you have it, a little glimpse of what the first QUOZ was like. Looking forward to the next one.